Friday, August 06, 2010

Updated: Charlotte Loonsfoot sets up new camp on Yellow Dog Plains to protest sulfide mine

MARQUETTE -- KBIC (Keweenaw Bay Indian Community) tribal member Charlotte Loonsfoot, accompanied by family and friends, has returned to the Yellow Dog Plains to pray, gather berries, fish and camp in protest against the Kennecott Eagle Mine.

During the KBIC Maawanji'iding (Pow wow) in the Ojibwa Campground, Baraga, on June 24, 2010, Charlotte Loonsfoot spoke with Keweenaw Now about her plans for the new camp on the Yellow Dog Plains. Support from family and friends is making it a reality now. Loonsfoot is pictured here in her regalia, including a symbolic blue shawl. The Women's Movement for the Water is now promoting blue shawls to help spread awareness about protecting the water. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"On Sunday (Aug. 1), after the walk to Eagle Rock we set up camp on the Yellow Dog Plains," Loonsfoot says. "It is a new camp to bring awareness to the world of how sulfide mining in the Great Lakes is going to pollute our fish, wildlife, and people. We are going to fish, hunt, and gather on our Ceded Territories of the Anishinaabeg people. We will be learning how to live off the land like our ancestors did before we were moved to reservations. By having this camp we are continuing our presence in opposition of the Kennecott Mine. We will not give up fighting to protect our water. Come join us to help preserve the health and safety of our future."

On May 27, 2010, Charlotte Loonsfoot and Chris Chosa were arrested for trespassing on state land and treaty-protected ceded territory. Kennecott, working with local law enforcement, removed the camp structures and community garden and fenced off public access to Eagle Rock, an Anishinaabeg (Ojibwa) sacred site. Kennecott continues to strip off all trees, plants and topsoil on several acres around Eagle Rock.

This photo of Eagle Rock, taken Aug. 1, 2010, shows Rio Tinto - Kennecott's berms and fences that now surround this Ojibwa sacred site, where the company plans to put a sulfide mine for nickel and copper.

Along the AAA road, heavy trucking has impacted travelers attempting to access area waterfalls, fishing holes, private camps and blueberries. Kennecott security heavily monitors the area near the fenceline.

Fellow campers from Minnesota intend to maintain a presence on the Plains while monitoring activity in the area.

Says Rorie, "We are hoping and praying that the people responsible for making the decision to mine this sacred land turn their actions around. We encourage people from across all walks of life to come together to protect the land and water that sustains us all."

Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve says Charlotte Loonsfoot's camp site has been donated by June Rydholm and her family for the camp's use -- so this is private land and is well off the road, 1/2 mile east of the entrance to the mine.

"(Charlotte) is a courageous woman who feels the need to be out there and is asking others to join her -- for an hour, an evening, a night, a week or however long they can," Pryor writes in a message sent today, Aug. 6. "It is a very beautiful camp site under jack pine, with a wonderful overlook of the Panarama hills to the south of the Plains. The site is also within walking distance of the Yellow Dog River and a great swim/fishing hole. Blueberries abound. She is keeping a sacred fire so the need for wood is paramount. She has plenty of staples but fresh/frozen meats, fresh vegetables and fruits are very welcome. Ice (block) and coffee are also on her list."

To reach the camp look for a CLEAN WATER - YES, SULFIDE MINING - NO banner on the south side of the AAA road 1/2 mile east of the mine gate. Drive in and park along the two track road. You can drive right to the camp to unload wood and supplies, and there is a turn-around area.

Campers are making this "blueberry leather" by mashing the blueberries and spreading them out to dry on bark into tough "leather," which will last for a long time. (Photo © and courtesy Eeva Miller)

"I spent the last two days and nights with her and her son Virgil, along with an individual from Oklahoma, who says the Yellow Dog Plains is the most beautiful place he has ever been," Pryor adds. "Some folks from the north shore of Minnesota spent most of this week with her helping set up camp, tarps, cutting wood, etc. They have all gone home now, so do think hard how you can help."

Jessica Koski of New Warriors for the Earth (NWE), the group that hosted the Third Annual Protect the Earth events last weekend, said NWE is in support of "anyone who camps for the greater cause as long as it is peaceful, non-violent and alcohol and drug free."

For more information on the encampment, visit or call 906-228-4444.

Update: After a visit to the camp on Friday, Aug. 6, Eeva Miller of Marquette reports Charlotte would like more visitors and the campers' wish list includes the following: wood (most important item), five-gallon or larger water containers, tools to split wood (awl, wedges, axe, sledge hammer, big bow saw), rope (1/2-in. or 1/4-in.), wood stove, walkie talkies, canvas-walled tent for cold weather living quarters, meat, ice, milk, eggs, butter, good peanut butter.

Editor's Notes: Watch for our articles and stories on Protect the Earth, coming soon.

Setting it straight: This article originally mentioned that the Minnesota campers were members of S.T.O.P. (Stop Toxins and other Pollutants). We have been notified that was an error. Rorie and friends are working independently.


charlotte said...

S.T.O.P. was handed down to us from our Elders at KBIC. I really appreciate and respect them for all they have done to take a stand.

Keweenaw Now said...

Thanks, Charlotte, for clarifying this.